With the new year around the corner, many are starting to craft their 2019 marketing plan. Wondering where to begin? Start by looking back.
Maybe you’ve got your new budget all set and approved. Perhaps you’re a go-getter who likes to get a head start on planning.
Whatever the motivation, lots of marketers are starting to look ahead to a new semester, a new year, and new strategies to grow their enrollment pipelines.
Our natural tendency is to look back at all the things that we’d do differently and all the strategies that didn’t go as we’d hoped.
While you should always learn from past mistakes, there’s a real danger in getting too deep in the quagmire of regrets and disappointments. So before you get to the negative analysis, I recommend that you start with a positive review.
What happened in your higher education marketing in 2018 that’s worth celebrating?
This isn’t just advice to keep you feeling better. Starting with a positive look back has some strategic advantages.
Reminds you of your goals.
With so many things going on, it’s easy to lose sight of the goals you’ve set. In the fast-paced world of higher education marketing, you can get so lost in the day-to-day tactics that you can’t see the overarching plan.
That’s why it’s critical to remind yourself of your goals. And celebrating past wins is a great way to do that.
Another reason to remind yourself of your goals is that if you don’t, you might end up celebrating results you didn’t work for.
If you think about it, there are two kinds of events you could celebrate:
- Good things that happen by accident
- Good things that happen through the direct work of your team
I love it when great things happen unexpectedly — but to gain strategic value from celebrating your wins, you need to celebrate results that came specifically through the good work of your team.
Celebrating happy coincidences can feel like a hollow exercise. We’re all glad it happened, but we can’t know for sure if what happened occurred as a direct result of our work or not.
On the other hand, celebrating wins that happened after long days of hard work, bold risks, or disappointing setbacks can bring your team the motivation and clarity you need for the coming year.
How do you know which results are a direct result of your team’s work?
By identifying and celebrating the goals you’ve set and met.
When you are reminded of the goals you made at the outset of the year, you’ll be more inclined to forge ahead with newer, bolder goals for 2019.
Reinforces what’s important.
There’s a popular leadership maxim: “Vision leaks.” And it’s true for marketing teams as well.
As marketers, we often forget the three things we do:
- Generate new, quality leads for the enrollment team
- Build our education brand’s authority, visibility, and voice
- Serve our audiences by answering their questions through quality content
Creatives tend to get distracted by their designs and strategies. Skewing to the design side of marketing — which admittedly, is the coolest side — can lead to doing things just because they’re cool, not because they’re effective.
Celebrating the wins of 2018 will help reorient your team to the key performance indicators they need to support with their creative work.
Boosts morale in your team.
When you celebrate your past wins, you’re really celebrating your team.
It’s about what they’ve done. It’s about the contributions they’ve made.
Recognizing the value and work of your team is an incredible way to boost morale.
You’ll need all that energy and esprit de corps to accomplish what you have in mind for 2019.
You know what works and can invest more in these successful tactics.
Looking back to celebrate your wins over the past year will bring to light the strategies that worked, and which ones didn’t.
Your college or university is different. In fact, your uniqueness is your biggest competitive advantage.
But that also means that the strategies others are using won’t always work for you.
Be open to new ideas and adopt new strategies that you see working for others, but make sure you are tracking your metrics so you know which strategies or tools are actually working for you.
Once you see clearly which strategies, hacks, or tools are producing good results, then you can make room to invest more into them in your 2019 plan and budget.
Increases confidence in your leadership.
One thing you’ll need for sure in 2019 is the full buy-in of your team. This is one of those intangible must-haves for marketing success.
Any marketing strategy or campaign can be derailed if there’s little to no internal confidence in the idea.
You’ll need their confidence in you and in your ideas as you head into the new year asking for their input, time, and resources.
Celebrating past wins is a powerful and effacing way to bolster the confidence of your team in the strategies and projects you’re prepping for 2019.
So all the best to you as you look back and start your 2019 plans with gratitude and celebration!
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